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Hey guys, new to the forum- just trying to get started in on discussing hockey and the Jackets.

Personally, I saw a lot of hope last season, and with the young talent currently on the roster, and the return of Filatov in addition to talent in the system (ie Matt Calvert, Johanson, etc) I see hope for the Jackets.

I'd like to see Johanson have a shot in a couple of games this year- I think he could provide well as a multi-faceted center to feed Nash (Nash has long been in need of a pivot to feed off of). Calvert has shown some glimmers of hope out in Brandon, and I hope he can transition into the NHL successfully and develop into a franchise player.

The biggest downside and weakness to the team is on Defense. Last season Mason performed poorly, but I can't let myself place all the blame on him (granted he does need to step up his game and get back on pace with the consistancy and playmaking ability of his rookie year).

The defense showed time and time again an inability to slow down the rush, and also had a horrible time in controlling the puck in their own zone. This obviously has to change, and hopefully it has been addressed in the off season. Injuries were an issue on D as well.

All in all, I think Mason has what it takes to step back up to his rookie form, and to do so needs to gain his confidence back and get back to challenging the shooter more and squaring himself to the play that is coming his way. I saw a little of that start to shine through again towards the end of the 09-10 season, but nowhere near what it had been in 08-09. If he can do that and regain his composure, he can go a long way to helping the Jackets be sucessful.

Keys for the Jackets this year are: continue to dig and cycle the puck- had success last year with creating offense down low. Key young players such as Voracek, Brassard, etc need to continue to progress in terms of jumping into the play. Voracek showed some good glimpses of his potential last year, and with a bit more experience I think he'll grow even more. Defense is the obvious true key- as long as the offense can continue to produce and even increase production, if the D can step it up and as a team not let games that they're leading by several goals get close (many times the Jackets were up by 2 or 3 goals and quickly allowed the opposing teams to get back in the game and then ultimately win) I think they have a shot at a good year.

Also, the key to the playoffs and success is obviously getting points. This means getting 2 points way more often and not leading a game only to end up getting one point in an OT loss. Yes, 1 point is better than none, but the tallying of points ultimately goes a lot slower and gets a lower total when getting many many OT losses and not enough 2 point victories.

That's my two cents for now! Drawn out a bit, I know, but it was all my honest and humble opinion of where the Jackets stand. :bt
 

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The NHL "30 in 30" report on Columbus pretty much sums it up...

To celebrate their 10th season, the Columbus Blue Jackets hope a new coach can bring back old success.

It was only a year ago the Blue Jackets were celebrating the high of the franchise's first-ever playoff berth. There was no follow-up, though, as the team crashed to last place in the Central Division and 14th in the Western Conference...

DEPARTURES
Roster-wise, it's been a very quiet summer for the Blue Jackets, as the only people who seem to be leaving are coaches...

ARRIVALS
The biggest arrival might be volume. From the new coaching staff to the team's lone big summer pick-up, the change in culture has been about the biggest change in Columbus.

Arniel and new assistant coaches Dan Hinote, Bob Boughner and Brad Berry all played more than 200 NHL games based more on guts and toughness than skill. The same can be said of Ethan Moreau, whom the Jackets picked up on waivers from the Edmonton Oilers...

OUTLOOK
So which team is the Columbus Blue Jackets? Are they the club that finished seventh in the Western Conference two seasons ago? Or the ones that bottomed out in the Central Division last season?

A big part of determining that will be the play of Mason. En route to being named the League's best rookie in 2008-09, he won 33 games with a 2.29 goals-against average. Last season, however, he dipped to just 20 wins and a 3.06 GAA, and at times lost his role as unquestioned starter.

With the defensive system Arniel plans on installing, Mason should have a bit of an easier time regaining the confidence in his game...

UP-AND-COMING: 3 PLAYERS TO WATCH
Nikita Filatov, LW -- The Blue Jackets expect the enigmatic forward in for training camp, but until he shows up, no one knows for sure...

Anton Stralman, D -- He was a surprise last season, leading the team's defensemen in scoring with 34 points. That earned a bigger contract over the summer, and now he has to live up to the expectations...

Steve Mason, G -- As good as Mason's rookie season was in 2008-09, his second season was equally as disappointing...

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=535427
 
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